This story was written in response to Laura M Bailey’s challenge. See Link:
You may also wish to read my previous 3-way challenge story because this one follows it:
Lisa and Iain had kept to their agreement. Since their kiss last night on the beach they had not spoken. He was sitting at the back of the plane and she was next to Debra, one of her work friends.
The team building event had only been a partial success. The firm they worked for was one of the largest Accountancy companies in London. Every year they sent their managers on a team building long weekend to somewhere semi-exotic. Even though she’d worked for the company for fifteen years, this had been her first trip since she’d been promoted to junior manager last year. It was funny being called a Junior manager, she was forty-five years old, but she had been one of the few that had worked her way up from the bottom. Iain had only joined the firm a few months ago and was the same age as her. He had worked for another Accountancy firm and so had come into the business the next tier up. The rest of the Junior managers were in their late twenties or early thirties and had come into the company from Accountancy college or university. It had only been a partial success because it hadn’t really broken down many barriers. Except between her and Iain. They had fallen in love.
The problem was they were both married. She was married to Dave, a high-flier in the City. He’d tried to stop her coming on this team building event out of jealousy and then she’d discovered that he had been having an affair with someone he had met at a similar event seven years ago. She now saw all her twenty years of marriage as just a sham.
Iain too was not in a happy marriage. He was estranged from his wife, Sheila, but they stayed together for the sake of their teenage sons. He wanted to provide them with a sense of stability while they did their exams.
They had talked about their problems. It had been so nice to have a sympathetic ear to listen to her. She, in turn, listened as he described his marriage as living in an enclosure at the zoo. He felt trapped and in a hostile environment with no easy way to escape.
As they had talked, they inadvertently fell in love on that beach in Majorca.
They had decided that they would be stoic about the whole thing and return to their lives as before.
When they landed at Stansted Airport, she caught a glimpse of Iain across the baggage hall. She was waiting for her suitcase but Iain had only taken one holdall. He looked at her and gave her a smile, she smiled back and then he turned away and strode towards the car park. He had a longer journey than her, he lived in a large four bedroom house near St. Albans.
She wiped away a tear, grabbed her suitcase then walked towards the pick-up point. She was stubbornly determined to be stoic.
Dave was supposed to be there waiting for her. There was no sign of their red Ford Focus. Plenty of red cars, but not his. She always thought it strange that as soon as you started looking out for a car of a particular colour, suddenly there would be hundreds of them!
She switched on her phone and checked her messages, Nothing.
After waiting for twenty long minutes, she decided to ring Dave and find out what was going on.
It went straight through to his voicemail.
“Hi Dave, I’m at the pickup point, are you caught in traffic? You are still coming to pick me up aren’t you?”
She always felt awkward talking to a machine rather than a person. Although come to think of it, talking to Dave was sometimes like talking to a machine anyway.
She waited patiently for an hour and had left three more messages, each getting slightly more angry, before giving up and walking to the taxi rank.
As the taxi pulled up outside her small three-bed semi-detached house in Chelmsford, she saw the curtains slightly drawn. There was just something about a house that just shouted “Empty”. It was Monday lunchtime, maybe Dave had forgotten all about it and gone to work. It would have been like him.
She paid the taxi driver and then walked into the house. It felt cold and unlived in. She noticed her husband’s coat wasn’t hanging in the hall.
There was a note pinned to the cork board in the kitchen.
She opened the back door and walked to her favourite spot in the garden.
In the corner, she had created a little sanctuary for her with Ivy climbing up the walls and the white face of an Angel emerging from the greenery. It was a spot she liked to sit in a read. It was her ‘happy’ place.
She opened and read the note, something instinctively told her to wait.
I realise that we have been living a lie all these years.
I have taken most of my things.
I have decided that there is someone else I want to be with.
You can have the house.
She looked at those few words, not much for twenty years of devotion, but somehow, she wasn’t sad at all.
Her mobile phone started to ring, the tune of Pharrell Williams “Happy” had been her ringtone for ages, but somehow couldn’t have been more poignant.
“Hi, Lisa? It’s Iain. Sheila’s chucked me out, she’s had all the locks changed and there’s someone’s red Ford Focus parked on the drive. I didn’t know who else I could talk to.”
Lisa couldn’t contain her smile, “Iain, come to me, I’ll text you the address. I think we have a lot to talk about.”
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 10/September/2018